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Two recent events in Guyana are demonstrative of the state of Governance in the country as much they are demonstrative of the reason for that state.
Www.Governancetoday.com provides the following definition of governance: “The system by which entities are directed and controlled. It is concerned with structure and processes for decision making, accountability, control and behaviour at the top of an entity.” Government is such an entity, hence this understanding of governance equally applies to the manner in which Government is supposed to operate.
The creation of a ministerial portfolio for Governance in Guyana is ample evidence of the Government`s recognition of, and identification with, Good Governance. However, it still begs the question as to whether recognition and identification are synonymous with the praxis? The relevance of that question is highlighted in two recent events to which this editorial refers.
Officials of Guy Oil and the responsible Minister, the Minister of Finance have all alluded to concerns about the manner in which a transaction for the procurement of oil was allegedly handled. Many versions, all worrying, have been told. The truth of the matter is still to be determined, but that there is a matter to be determined has not been contested by any of the concerned persons, rather that is the one issue on which they have absolute agreement. What has also emerged as a matter of fact is that one of the board members was involved in conducting the transaction. Herein lies the relevance of this matter to Governance. The decision making process in relation to the procurement of oil is unequivocal. The management conducts the transaction based on predetermined guidelines which may involve the Board in giving the final approval, but at no stage of the process should the board members be conducting the transactions. In this instance, the board member admits to his involvement but see nothing wrong with his conduct. He clearly is not knowledgeable and/or committed to the requirements of Good Governance but has been entrusted with that responsibility. Of interest is the fact that he represents one of the smaller parties that campaigned on being different from the two major parties. He is however, by virtue of his conduct, manifestly no differ from what is attributed the major parties. Clearly the cancer of bad governance, in this instance a corrupt practice, is pervasive in the political system and consequently in the decision making processes of the Government and its agencies.
The other instance is the conduct of a Minister with regards to the transfer of a senior government official. The Public Services system was never intended to be superintended by politicians. Politicians are supposed to be the formulators of policy and the monitors of policy implementation. The Permanent Secretaries are the administrative heads of the Ministries and are statutorily responsible for the conduct of the work of the respective Ministries; and controlling the workers in keeping with the provisions of the Public Service Rules. In this instance, the Minister usurped that responsibility, as is now a frequent occurrence.
These examples of Bad Governance raise the question about the commitment to the praxis of Good Governance as opposed to a mere veneer in the form of a portfolio for Governance.
Wither to Guyana if such importance things are not on our agenda, rather quite the opposite is consciously embraced.